Whitaker was the lead reporter covering the 2000 presidential campaign of George W. Bush. He has covered virtually all of the major breaking news events in the West in the past nine years, including serving as CBS News' lead correspondent on both O.J. Simpson trials, the Heaven's Gate mass suicide, the Los Angeles earthquake and the El Nino weather phenomenon.
Prior to joining its Los Angeles bureau, he served as CBS News' Tokyo correspondent (1989-92). From there, Whitaker covered stories throughout Asia, including the pro-democracy uprising in Tiananmen Square, military coup attempts in the Philippines and the enthronement of Japan's Emperor Akihito. He also covered the build-up to Desert Storm from Baghdad.
Before that, Whitaker was based in Atlanta (1985-89), from where he covered the 1988 presidential campaign of Michael Dukakis, among other stories. He joined CBS News as a reporter in November 1984.
Previously, Whitaker was a correspondent for WBTV-TV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte, N.C., having joined that station in 1982 as part of the CBS News Minority Training Program. He reported on state politics, including the close North Carolina senate election battle between Sen. Jesse Helms and Gov. Jim Hunt.
Whitaker's broadcast journalism career began in 1979 at KQED-TV San Francisco, that city's public television station, where he held various positions including associate producer, production coordinator and researcher/writer.
He was born in Philadelphia. Whitaker was graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1973 with a B.A. degree in American history and from Boston University in 1974 with a master's degree in African-American studies. Whitaker also attended the University of California, Berkeley's Master of Journalism program (1978). He was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 1997.
Whitaker lives with his wife, the former Teresita Conley, and their two children in Los Angeles.